Cypress Island Nature Reserve, Lake Martin, Louisiana

Large, green palm leaves that are low to the ground stand in stark contrast to the tall brown trees around them, and the result is a gorgeous scenery that I’ve never had the chance to observe in person before.

Palm leaves in front of trees at Cypress Island Preserve in Lake Martin, L ouisiana

 

Back when I lived in Chicago, many people assumed I was familiar with the jungle, since I’m from Brazil, and the world’s largest rainforests makes its home in Brazil’s northern states. But I’m from the Southeast, and my hometown is over 600 kilometres away from the rainforest.

Jumping in Mud Puddles at Cypress Island Preserve, www.marianamcdougall.com. Picture of swamp and trees at Cypress Island in background.

I grew up so far removed from the Amazon, that the city in which I grew up is known as “The Stone Wilderness.” The “stone” doesn’t refer to any natural phenomenon, but to the cement that makes up the thousands of high-rise apartment and commercial buildings in São Paulo, Brazil. I don’t recall visiting too many conservation areas or national parks as a child. As an adult, though, I’ll soon lose count of how many we have visited.

 

Cypress Island Preserve. Woman takes a selfie, with man and children walking in the background in the forest.

 

When we started this trip, we purchased a Parks Canada Discovery Pass and an “America the Beautiful” pass, and we have been visiting several national parks, state parks, and conservation areas along our route. The Cypress Island Preserve in Lake Martin, Louisiana, came highly recommended by the friendly staff at the Atchafalaya Visitor Center, and their advice did not disappoint.

 

Cypress Island Preserve Swamp

 

It’s a bit late in the year to see the many birds that make their homes here, but we still catch a beautiful Great Egret.

 

Great Egret bird surrounded by trees in the Cypress Island Preserve.

 

As I observe this beautiful bird landing gracefully on the ground, it disappoints me a little that I didn’t get a mid-flight picture. I get such a thrill when I’m able to capture shots like that, but alas, today it didn’t happen.

 

Swamp at the Cypress Island Preserve, Lake Martin, Louisiana

 

I would love to study photography one day, and pick up nature photography as a hobby. I love waiting for the perfect moment to catch a bird or even a squirrel in the perfect behaviour for a beautiful photograph. I’ll add that to my never-ending list of “I’d like to do this one day” items. The nice thing about this list? I never forget about it. I’m living one of those “I’d like to do this one day” items right now, and as I always say… it’s never too late to learn something new. And a dream is only “just a dream” until you turn it into a goal. So eventually I’m sure I’ll do a bit of photography. For now, I work on my writing.

Three children play in a mud puddle at Cypress Island Preserve

 

As we continue our walk through the forest, and I watch my children playing in the muddy puddles, a deep peace and contentment fill my heart. This is where I’m meant to be right now. In the forest, with my beautiful family by my side.

What’s your favourite thing about forests?

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